October 2, 2015

Future Fund Refuses to Meet with Communities affected by their Fossil Fuel Investments

(MELBOURNE)– Australia’s $117bn Sovereign Wealth Fund – The Future Fund – has refused to meet with a group of farmers who are affected by the Fund’s investments in fossil fuel companies, whose operations are affecting their land.

“We see that fertile soils and food security are becoming more important to all our futures, so it’s ironic that the Future Fund is so heavily invested in companies whose activities directly threaten future food production. We really want the Future Fund to understand the perspective of those people on the front line of these massive developments to know what kind of future they are investing in,” said Liverpool Plains grassfed beef producer, Derek Blomfield.

Approximately $3.4 billion of the Future Fund’s portfolio is exposed to fossil fuel companies, including Rio Tinto, whose massive Warkworth coal mine expansion risks relocating the entire village of Bulga in NSW’s Hunter Valley to relocate, and BHP who plans to build a massive underground coal mine in the Liverpool Plains – Australia’s best farming land.

“As a family farmer, the creep of coal seam gas expansion overtaking our land, water and food supply is a threat that grows by the day. It is unacceptable that the Future Fund is refusing us a seat at the table whilst investing taxpayer dollars in some of the worst coal, oil and gas companies in the world,” said Sarah Ciesiolka, a potato and peanut farmer from Wee Waa, NSW.

The Future Fund was enacted in 2006 with the purpose of fully funding the future superannuation payments of public servants, which currently come from the federal budget. Payments will commence from 2020 when an ageing population will be most in need.

“The Future Fund’s continued investment in companies that contribute to climate change, make people sick and profit from the destruction of fertile farmland, put it at direct odds with the very people they are responsible for providing retirement savings for. What sort of future for Australia are we investing in?” said Mr Blomfield.

The Future Fund’s fossil fuel investments include companies like Gazprom which commenced the world’s first drilling in the Arctic, BHP which has plans to build a series of massive coal mines in Borneo that would destroy primary rainforest, deprive indigenous peoples of their customary land, and pollute water sources relied on by up to one1 million people. It also includes Rio Tinto, whose massive Warkworth coal mine expansion will force the entire village of Bulga in NSW, to relocate.

“Fossil fuels belong in the ground, not in our Sovereign Wealth Fund’s investment portfolios. It’s time for the Future Fund to start listening to the people who its investments are affecting. It’s time for them to divest from fossil fuels so that we can have a safe future.” concluded Ciesiolka.

A campaign calling upon the Future Fund to divest from fossil fuels launched last month and has seen thousands of Australians contact the fund to date.

Interviews with farmers available on request.